Ka-Ching: In-App Mobile Charging is Now in the Philippines – and the World

This PR just in from Smart – the first Android mobile apps using the WAC NAPI (Network API) are out – and they are all coming out first from the Philippines. 

What’s the significance? Well apart from the Philippines being a development hub for these WAC (Wholesale Applications Community) apps – the Network API enables what mobile developers in this part of the world have been clamoring for some time: In-App Operator Charging.

What this means is that mobile developers who sign up to use the API can now charge customers for use of the app from inside the application itself. And instead of requiring some form of credit card registration for online payments, the payment (purchase, or whatever) will be charged to your cellphone. For prepaid users this means it can deduct from your load, and for postpaid users it means this amount gets added to your bill.

For a society where the lack of widespread use of credit cards has hampered online purchasing, this is a pretty big deal. It opens up the floodgates for all sorts of transactions via mobile.

And just as importantly, it opens up a new method of monetization for mobile developers in the Philippines and the rest of the world.

A WAC app with charging APIs doesn’t just work in the Philippines, it will work in any country with a WAC operator partner.

Available first for Android devices, the API will eventually be available to other platforms and the mobile web. Apple permitting, maybe even on iOS apps (well if Apple relaxes its policies on in-app purchasing that is…)

More on this development in subsequent blog posts, but in the meantime, the full global PR announcement is below:

* * * *

Smart airtime load to pay for apps, services

Leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) will soon make it possible for subscribers to pay for mobile apps, products, and services with their airtime load in addition to credit cards or online payment accounts.

As demonstrated by the recently launched Chikka TopApp for Android smartphones, Smart is pioneering a new technology which makes it possible for subscribers to use their load credits as payment as it allows software developers to charge Smart mobile users directly through their prepaid or postpaid accounts.

“There are still a lot of mobile phone users in the world who do not own credit cards or online payment accounts, and are thus, not able to purchase apps and other digital products,” said Smart President Napoleon L. Nazareno. “By turning our subscribers’ airtime accounts into a means for payment, we have made it possible for developers to reach out to more potential customers,” he said.

A 2008 survey by the Bank for International Settlements states that in the Philippines, only 3% of Filipinos own a credit card. (http://www.bis.org/publ/bppdf/bispap46m.pdf)

A world first, Chikka TopApp was developed in conjunction with the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), a coalition of leading mobile operators from around the world.

Chikka TopApp was made possible by a new Network Application Programming Interface (NAPI) created by WAC. The NAPI allows developers to charge users without having to connect separately with each mobile operator’s billing system.

“The opening up of network APIs is a key focus for WAC ,” said WAC CEO Peters Suh. “This demonstrates our commitment to making it easier for developers to innovate and drive revenues and proves that successful collaboration between operators is a reality,” Suh said.

Another Filipino-made app, the Pinoy Book Reader by Oks Pinoy has also been released earlier this month. Like Chikka TopApp, the application is able to use the Smart’s billing and payment system made possible by WAC’s NAPI.

The Netphone

Smart has been taking the lead in developing applications based on the WAC platform. Last September it launched the WAC-enabled Netphone which features the ground-breaking SmartNet platform.

SmartNet is a service delivery platform which includes several patented technologies such as Safe Browse and the Global Directory.

Instead of turning off the phone’s data connection altogether to avoid unintended data use, Safe Browse makes available whitelisted sites and services. Once users try to visit unauthorized sites, Safe Browse even warns them of potential additional charges.

The Global Directory, meanwhile, is a service which allows Netphone users to search for other users on SmartNet. As soon as they’ve found the person they wish to connect with they can send a friend request similar to what is done in popular social networking sites.

“We have the devices—now, it’s as easy as making the applications available to the users ” said Nazareno. “In the near future, we will be introducing more features to WAC applications as we improve on the NAPI,” ended Nazareno.
To install Chikka TopApp on the Netphone, download the free app from the Google Android Market.

The Netphone 701 is now available for P9,900 on prepaid or for free on Data Lite Plan 800 or All-In Plan 1200. Also available is the Samsung Galaxy Y Netphone Edition for P5,990 on prepaid or for free Data Lite Plan 500 or All-In Plan 800.

For more information visit http://www.netphone.ph or visit the Smart Wireless Center nearest you.

Smart is the only Philippine telco that holds a seat in the Wholesale Applications Community’s board of directors.

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3 Responses to Ka-Ching: In-App Mobile Charging is Now in the Philippines – and the World

  1. Hey Jim,

    Any URL or some other resource to tell us how we can start developing apps using operator in-app payments?

    Cheers!

  2. Jim Ayson says:

    By the way, just to clarify, apps using the WAC NAPI don’t need to be “WAC phones” per se, these will run on any Android phone (Froyo and up).

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